Johannesburg - Aquarius Platinum’s half-year results to December reflected credible operational performance and delivery, wrapped in a difficult macro environment, chief executive Jean Nel said on Friday.

The platinum producer’s revenue decreased by 2 percent to $113 million from $116m a year earlier due to lower platinum group metal prices. Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 55 percent to $10m, with a group cash balance of $83m.

“Aquarius’s performance during the period tells two different stories, a credible operational performance and delivery on safety, production and cost improvement, wrapped in a difficult macro environment, specifically regulatory, metal price and industrial relations environment,” Nel said.

The company said the credible operational performance came against the backdrop of a challenging and complex macro environment.

Aquarius was concerned about the prevailing regulatory uncertainty in South Africa and Zimbabwe. This included the precarious state of local labour relations, which continued to make longer-term production planning and capital allocation difficult.

Total production of platinum group metals from all Aquarius operations for the period was 330 702 ounces, representing a 7 percent increase from the previous period.

Production attributable to Aquarius also lifted 7 percent to 168 014 ounces.

Platinum prices for the six months decreased 9 percent to $1 138 (R12 569) an ounce. The average US dollar platinum group metal price was 5 percent lower, but the average rand platinum price was up 13 percent compared with the previous corresponding period. The rand weakened by 19 percent against the dollar.

Kroondal exceeded platinum group metal output of 105 000 ounces for a fourth consecutive quarters. Despite many challenges, it was consistently producing at levels higher than at any other time in its 10-year history.

Production at Mimosa in Zimbabwe continued to be in line with guidance while cash costs continued to reduce steadily in real terms.

The group’s Platinum Mile division delivered a credible operational performance in the half-year, and would have outperformed significantly had it not suffered interruptions in its planned concentrate feed during the second quarter.

Aquarius shares rose 1.56 percent to close at R7.15 on the JSE on Friday. - Business Report